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Blog Review: Sunflower


Description of site:
As Sunflower puts it herself: a site to share her rambling thoughts, experience and fun with friends. I am going to refer to the person Sunflower as 'the author' from now on otherwise, with the blog sharing the same name, it could get confusing.

Custom 3-column Blogger template. The left hand side bar has many, many links and several BlogRolls. The right hand sidebar has a flickr album, a few pictures and various ads.

Neatly organised. The central column is slightly out of proportion compared to the lengthy sidebars – the author may like to consider scaling down the central column content by including fewer posts per page.

Navigation and Functionality:
Sidebar links and blog archive.

Amazon Associates ads dominate the right hand sidebar, but aren't imposing on the post text. The author has recently started including sponsored posts - these are irregular and greatly outnumbered by regular posts.

I am always concerned when I'm asked to review a site like this – what right have I, a newish blogger from the
UK with limited experience under my belt, to critique a blog of the stature of Sunflower? This is a quality blog – it must be because it has a Technorati ranking in the top 6000. Considering Technorati is tracking nearly 60 million blogs that is no mean feat. I am more than humbled that we have received a back link from Sunflower! It just goes to prove that just as you can't judge a book by its cover, you can't judge a blog by its PageRank. Sunflower is a PR0 site – I couldn't believe it either – they appear, at first glance, to have been robbed by Google. But when I look closer I think I can explain the disparity between the Technorati and Google rankings. Technorati judge a blog on how many links it receives whereas Google assign a value to each of those inbound links and also consider the outbound links. Sure, the number of Sunflower inbound links is huge but the number of outbound links is equally mammoth. As a rough rule of thumb outbound links cancels out inbound links under Google's PageRank system. I suspect that nearly all the links on the BlogRolls, of which there are literally hundreds, are reciprocal links and therefore of limited value in Google terms.

I am amazed that such a young blog has had almost exponential growth in its popularity and following. I think the reason for Sunflower's success is very effective, although not necessarily efficient, link exchanging. The author must have worked 24 hours a day promoting her blog and exchanging links. Even more surprising for a blog with such high Technorati ranking is that content is so thin on the ground – I had to double check the archive but there really are no posts in June or August 2006. There is only one post in each of May and September 2006. I could be mistaken here, and apologies to the author if I am, but has some of the content got lost in cyberspace?

Now for content. When I review a blog I always skip to the beginning of the archive and read the introductory post to develop an expectation of what lies ahead. Sadly Sunflower has the briefest of introductions and doesn't reveal much of the background story. Apart from that I like April – it is contextually broad, ranging from art (van Gogh's Sunflowers) to science and nature (the life cycle of the plant) to cookery (green papaya salad). I also learn what a baby shower is – I've heard of one before, but never had the gumption to ask. We learn that the author is busy looking for employment, which would explain why she was distracted from blogging. May consists of one post, charting the author's lack of job hunting success but trying to remain positive. Skip forward two months to July and we have a single post on the Tom Hanks movie, The Green Mile. It's a tremendous film and I know it word for word. The author writes a detailed, descriptive and accurate review of the movie. Fast forward to September and the movie Contact is kind of reviewed. The review this time isn't so much about the movie, more of a reflection on how it relates to the author's life. Our next encounter occurs in November. November gets off to a good start with a solid, educational post on the Amazing Journey of the Salmon. Between now and then the author has really been getting in the blogger groove, with daily posts and regular participation in 'Wordless Wednesday', 'Thursday Thirteen' and 'Click and Comment Monday'. The numbered lists that typify so many musing blogs also make an appearance. The final Christmas touches are added by some nice wintery photos of Vancouver – wrap up warm before looking at those.

I am awarding Sunflower an 8/10 based partly on the people's Technorati vote - democracy in action! I can't award a 9/10 because I don’t think the inbound links give a true indication of Sunflower's popularity – more a reflection on how many blogging circles and link swaps the author has engaged in. Another consideration in my rating is the lack of content in the archive, which can't be compensated for by the flourish of recent activity.

There is no doubt at all that Sunflower is a quality publication with a loyal following. It has really taken off in the last month or so and I wish the author perseverance and success for the future.



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